Title: From a Sinking Boat
Artist: The Magnetic Fields
The Magnetic Fields' Realism is the aural equivalent of folk art. I can almost imagine Stephin Merritt sending everyone in the band a handwritten letter (natch) inviting them to the back warehouse of a thrift store where they are invited to play any instrument they can get to work provided it doesn't require electricity. The results are creative, if not inspired. And, of course, all the coolest people would be there, even Lemony Snicket himself, Daniel Handler, with his antique accordion in tow. A hootenanny of hipsters.
"From a Sinking Boat" doesn't showcase the most striking sounds from the album, which include toy pianos, banjo, folk harp, hammered dulcimer, vibes, tuba and woodblocks. But its whimsical blend of guitar, piano, accordion, cello, and sitar make for a more-than-suitable backdrop for this two-chord tale of love and despair. Merritt's lyric is splendidly naïve, a miniature poem of just 77 words that could have been composed by just about anyone over the age of twelve. Yet it all seems to work just fine, emerging as a poignant assemblage of junk that could hang alongside the best outsider art.